Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Hoofin’ It

sailing ship and modern cruise ship in Galveston
We took a day trip into Galveston recently as part of exploring and planning for going to the Tall Ships event…and we decided to go on foot to see if that was a viable option.

So we packed up a lunch, and headed out on a lovely Saturday morning. We chose Saturday for our initial trial as the Galveston ferry terminal bus stop would be served all day long. During the week, it’s active only during commute hours.

ferry boat at a dock
We had a beautiful day for our excursion
We drove down to the ferry dock and parked for the day. Parking, like the ferry, is free, (but do be wise and secure your vehicle and belongings.)

 It’s an easy walk from the lot (where there is a restroom facility) over to the dock. Once the ferry crew finishes loading the cars, they let you walk onto the boat.

After the crossing, they have pedestrians disembark first. Be sure to pay attention to the ferry crew members for where to wait. From the terminal (yes, there are restrooms onboard the ferries and at the terminal in Galveston) it’s a short walk to where the Galveston bus stop is.

gravel road
This unmarked gravel loop is the ferry terminal bus stop
However….it is unmarked and we had to ask several folks where it was. We missed the bus by 5-10 minutes and had to wait for the next bus. (The stop is next door to the Scottish Inn)

Note to self (and anyone reading along): Allow more time for the ferry. Crossing time varies by how many cars they have to load and if they have to adjust course for freighters, tide, weather, etc.

horse and buggy passing historic buildings
They passed us while we waited for the trolley
The bus went to the new terminal building located in the historic downtown area. (About a block from the Strand and across the street from the Railroad Museum [and yes, we still want to visit that museum]) From there, it was just a few blocks to walk down to where the Tall Ships event will be held.

wooden interior and arched windows of a trolley looking out to sea
Riding the trolley along the Seawall
We stopped at the Texas Seaport Museum (where the Elissa is docked) and gleaned some more info about the Tall Ships event, and then wandered about the waterfront for a bit. We found a nice section of open space with park benches and enjoyed the waterfront view while we ate our picnic lunch. Then we wandered the Strand a bit, did some window shopping, and then decided to ride the trolley before heading back home.

We rode the trolley system’s full route. The historic downtown loop, which goes out to the Seawall, and then transferred to the Sewall loop, which goes up through Moody Gardens. It was a nice way to see a lot of Galveston. It was also very reasonable. You can easily transfer between the two routes, and it only costs $1.

We returned to the bus terminal via the trolley and waited for the bus out to the ferry terminal.

At the new bus terminal. Waiting area is upstairs.
Now here’s something to be aware of…. if you do this on a Saturday, all 4 of Galveston’s bus routes are morphed into one very long bus route. So, no matter what number bus you board, you are in for a very long ride from downtown out to the ferry, and you do see a lot of Galveston! For the most part, all of the drivers, and many of the passengers, are friendly and helpful and even main bus fare is only $1.

rows of cars and trucks waiting to board the ferry boat
These folks have quite the wait
The downside, it was hard to get initial information about the bus and trolley service...the website was not user friendly, and going on a Saturday, no one was at the info desk at the new bus terminal. There weren't even any schedules available to pick up.

But despite that challenge, we were very glad we did do this as foot passengers…the ferry lines were very long getting back to the peninsula! Made the mild inconvenience of using mass transit worth it.

view from upper deck looking down at vehicles on the ferry  as it moves across the water
A great view from the upper deck!
Galveston in the distance.
We plan on doing another “dry run”. This time, on a weekday. Our tickets for Tall Ships Galveston are for Friday. Mainly to get a feel for how that weekday schedule flows. We don't want to miss that last bus out to the terminal!

And we’ll definitely go as walk-on passengers for the event instead of driving Sarge over. We’d rather splurge and eat out than pay for the festival parking rates! (and we know that Friday traffic on the ferry will be heavy)

Admittedly, all that trolley and bus riding did make for a very long day and we were glad to get home!

After all, home is where we park it. 😉

To learn more about Tall Ships Galveston, visit:

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